L'Europe Divisee Selon L'Etendue De Ses Principales Parties, Et Dont Les Points Principaux Sont Placez Observations Des Mesrs. De L'Academie Royale Des Sciences
By: Louis Charles Desnos
Date: 1722 Paris
Original Size: 37 x 40 inches
This Vintage Map Shop reproduction is a striking example of an important and exceptionally well-preserved map. Published in Paris in 1722 during the reign of Louis XV, and dedicated to the Dauphin who was to become the ill-fated Louis XVI, this map is a splendid example of the highly detailed and ornate maps which were in vogue at the end of eighteenth-century Europe. Large, highly decorative and expensive productions, such maps were considered one of the ultimate signs of wealth and intellectual sophistication, to the extent that they appeared regularly in works of fine art, most notably the paintings of Johannes Vermeer.
The present map is a fine example of the genre of wall, or parlor maps that enjoyed an iconic place in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Europe. It depicts Europe on a large scale, and would have been displayed in the salon of a wealthy member of the upper class. The title references French Academie Royale. Founded in 1666, the Academy is one of the oldest learned societies in Europe. It was created in order to foster and protect French scientific interests, one of which was geography, and was headquartered in the Louvre, where members would present new ideas and consult each other about experiments. The members had excellent international contacts with explorers and other men of science, and as such were frequently the primary conduit for the circulation and recording of geographic knowledge in map form.
The map is highly detailed, including the most important topographic information of the day, along with information regarding past explorers and current trade routes. Myriad seagoing vessels embellish the map, sailing at full sail on the waters of the Mediterranean and Black Seas and of the Atlantic. Near Greenland whaling ships and crews chase enormous whales, a reminder of the once rich whaling grounds in that area. In the northern portion of the map a note details the likelihood of more terra firma.
Surrounding the map are beautifully detailed vignettes representing various of the peoples in the territories depicted, primarily the most important regions and nations of the time, and starting from the upper left corner, celebrate the French, Danes, Dutch, Germans, English, Muscovites, Portuguese, Spanish, Tartars, Laplanders, Greenlanders, Turks, Hungarians, Poles, and Swedes. Each image reflects easily recognizable, stereotypical images of specific peoples, such as a bull fight taking place in Madrid for the Spanish. The vignettes are split by the title at the center top, with man in nature on one side and sleepy scholars on the other. The illustrations communicate the high level of civilization enjoyed by much of Europe at the time.
Louis-Charles Desnos (1725-1805) was a French geographer, globemaker, and instrument seller active in the mid-eighteenth century. He worked under the sign of the Globe in the Rue Saint-Jacques. Prior to work in France he served the King of Denmark, Christian VII, as Royal Globemaker.